Friday, February 15, 2008

If Accession is final?

COUNTERPOINT

What a way to pick some wishful points from the whole book of history and build a case of one’s own choice. That is exactly what M L Koul is doing to conclude ‘Accession is final’, writes Naseer A Ganai
Sir Zafrullah Khan, who was Foreign Minister of Pakistan, performed brilliantly as Pakistan’s advocate before the Security Council on Kashmir issue. Some historians say he was judicious, articulate and often eloquent in presenting his case while refuting India’s charges.
Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah too was impressed with his articulation and arguments. When Sheikh was released in January 1958 from Kud Sub jail, he addressed a press conference at Dak Bungalow Kud. “I don’t know why I was jailed and now why I was released,” Sheikh said in response to a question. A reporter asked him about his comments on Krishna Menon’s long speech in Security Council. Sheikh said, “If Kashmir issue could be solved through legal jugglery, Chowdary Zafrullah Khan would have then won it long back.”
And for Krishna Menon’s discourse Sheikh had nothing but contempt. In his autobiography Atish-i-Chinar, Sheikh terms his long speech in UN as classic example of U-turn and says if Pakistan entered into agreement with many Western countries but then “why should poor Kashmiris suffer on account of it and they be punished for it.” Sheikh not only once but several times accuses India and Nehru in particular going against pledges which he had made with the world, people of India and the people of Kashmir regarding plebiscite. “Nehru,” Sheikh says, was a strange character. “He was giving sermons of democratic ethos and values but had no qualms in trampling these very values. When Russia sided with India and used veto power against Kashmir in UN, Nehru triumphantly said now with the change in situation India is not bound to pledges it has given to the world body regarding Kashmir.”
Now M L Koul in his article “Accession is Final” begins his discourse by saying: “There has been much disinformation and propaganda about the legality of Kashmir’s Accession to India. Strong contrary views are held by people on this issue. Facts are quoted selectively behind motivated interpretations. They have even been mutilated and concocted to suit a particular point of view.”
And after quoting selective texts himself he says Accession with India is ‘final’. And after raising the issue he concludes his ‘theory’ by saying: “There is no need to flog dead horse of legality of Kashmir’s Accession to India. Peace and economic prosperity should be our goal.” This is what is called tragic comedy after raising the issue you are advised not do comment on it.
Now for argument’s sake let us presume Accession has taken place and see how pro-India leaders are viewing it. “It is said,” Koul says, “Indian troops moved into the State before Instrument of Accession was signed.” M.C Mahajan’s autobiographical account, historians says, of this most important sequence is critical variance with previous reports published by V.P Menon and others close to Nehru and Patel. Menon insists that “Kashmir’s Instrument of Accession “was signed and delivered to New Delhi before any Indian troops were flown into action in Srinagar. Mahajan reports reverse.
Now let us quote from records of Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly and refrain from quoting those people whom the Koul accuses as “British writers who were avid supporters of Kashmir cause.” Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg while speaking in the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir on Draft Constitution of the Jammu and Kashmir State made a long speech. The speech was made when half of the members of the Assembly were in jail including Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah facing charges of sedition. Beg didn’t only question the legality of Accession but the locus standi of the very man that is Maharaja Hari Singh who entered into Accession with India on behalf of people of Jammu and Kashmir.
‘Instrument of Accession Signed by Maharaja Hari Singh’
Beg first read out the preamble of the constitution: “We the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir having solemnly resolved in pursuance of the Accession of this State to India which took place on 26 October 1947 to further define the existing relationship of the State with the Union of India as an integral part.” After reading it Beg said: “Maharaja Hari Singh executed the instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947 and strange enough, it is being ratified today by the Drafting Committee. Prior to my comments on the legality of this Accession , I would like to mention something about the legal position of Maharaja Hari Singh…Maharaja Hari Singh got Kashmir acceded to India on October 26, 1947 and you have assembled here to ratify this “October 26 Accession .” Constitutionally, it is said, sovereignty vested in him and he exercised the same on October 26, 1947 and presented this document to the Government of India. Leave aside the action which government of India took on it and consider the position of the Maharaja on the eve of Accession … Kashmir was sold to Maharaja Gulab Singh by British in lieu of 75 lakhs of rupees through 1846 sale deed. His great grandson Maharaja Hari Singh inherited the rulership of Kashmir through aforesaid sale deed. Today you are confirming the Accession that was executed by Maharaja Hari Singh on October 26, which actually originated from the treaty of Amritsar between Maharaja Gulab Singh and the English who paid no heed to people’s sovereignty …How strange it is you are confirming it? Only one year prior to 1947 Quit Kashmir Movement was launched by you. The sacrifices proffered in the name of shattering Amritsar Sale deed demand that you should refrain from ratifying this Accession ….what was reaction of government of India when the Instrument of Accession was presented to it…Mr. V.P Menon was the man who entered into negotiation with the princess in respect of the question of Accession . In his book “Integration of States” which supports my contention…one of the passages of Mr. Menon book reads: The instrument of Accession which I brought to Delhi on October 26, was taken into consideration by the Defence Committee in which Union Ministers also participated. It was decided therein that the Maharaja’s instrument of Accession be accepted conditionally and that this Accession be treated as provisional subject to a final decision by a reference to the people in a free atmosphere.”
Beg told the Assembly that instrument of Accession was considered on October 26, 1947 and accepted conditionally. The condition laid down in this behalf was that the final decision about the Accession would be taken by the people in a free and fair plebiscite.”


Plebiscite
M.A Beg went on and described the instrument of Accession as provisional and said that the Government of India has accepted it conditionally. “The condition laid down in this behalf was that final decision about the Accession would be taken by the people in free and fair plebiscite.” “Pandit Nehru has time and again reiterated his pledge of holding a plebiscite in Kashmir and I will restrain myself to quoting one of his statements of August 7, 1952. It said, “As the House knows we have decided right at the beginning that we are agreeable to a plebiscite in which all the people of Jammu and Kashmir will take part. We are resolved not to dishonor this pledge we have given to the people of India, and therefore we shall pursue our policy accordingly. We do not want to win the people against their will and if the people of Jammu and Kashmir want to part Company with us they can go their way and we shall go ours. We have declared that fate of Kashmir be decided by the people. The pledge, we have given and the Maharaja has supported it, not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out from it.”
And on August 9, 1952 Nehru fulfilled his pledge by arresting Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. Sheikh describes Nehru as director of his arrest in his autobiography.
“You (Assembly) may express an opinion but you can take no decision on Accession .”
Now back to Beg. After quoting Nehru, Beg had challenged the Assembly’s right to ratify the Instrument of Accession and reminded assurances given by Government of India in Security Council of UN.
He talked about assurances given by Sir B N Rao, who represented India in Security Council and said Sir B.N Rao assured the Security Council that Kashmir Assembly’s decision in regard to Accession issue would in no way hamper the policy pursued by India. Quoting Sir B.N Rao verbatim, Beg said, “You (assembly) may express an opinion but you can take no decision on Accession .”
On this, Beg was interrupted by Bakshi Ghulam Ahmad who asked about his opinion on the issue. Beg replied, “Taking into account stand taken by B. N Rao and various statements of the Indian Government, it is evident that the problem of Kashmir is an international one which requires to be considered more deeply…it is my conviction that people themselves can make the best decision about matters concerning them.”
“It is wrong to say that the Security Council has accepted the right of State assembly to decide the issue of Accession of the Jammu and Kashmir State. In response to Dr. Grahm’s communication regarding the council proposal both the Government of India and the Pakistan were unanimous in saying that the people’s free will, and not the decision of the State assembly, would be only deciding factor. According to your own decisions 25 seats have been kept vacant and this very fact makes your decisions provisional rather than final.”

Section 370
Moti Ram Baigra asked Beg his opinion about the section 370. Beg said he has not affixed his signature to the section. “I was myself present when Mr Ayyanger introduced this section in the parliament. While introducing the same he said in clear terms Kashmiris’s Accession to India is provisional one and people of the State will make final decision in this respect by their own free will. However, we hope that like the rest of the States Kashmir also become a part of India.”
“Consider for a while statement of Ayanger, leader of Indian delegation to the U.N.O which he made in the Security Council on January 15, 1948. Mr Ayyanger clearly stated: Whether she (Kashmir) should withdraw from her Accession to India and either accedes to India or remains independent with a right to claim admission as a member of the U.N.O, all this we have recognized to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir after normal life is restored to them.”
After quoting Ayyanger M.A Beg said although the alternative of independence was subjected to criticism afterwards, Mr Ayyanger spoke in the Security Council about Kashmir remaining independent. He went on and said that right of self-determination for the people of Kashmir has been recognized and this right cannot be exercised by people of Paccadanga, Kachi Chwanui or Ganeshpora; nor by people of Uri or Phalgam. “The entire population of the state comprising 45 lakh people is entitled to this right”, he said.
If Kashmir secedes what will happen to Indian Muslims?
The argument is nothing new. Government of India and Indian intelligentsia has been playing with it since long. In response to the same Beg says in his speech made in October 24, 1956.
“Another argument put forward is that the Muslims being in minority in India would be unsafe if a plebiscite in Kashmir is held. I think that when such an argument is advanced, it does a disgrace to India. India claims to be a secular country and there should be, therefore, be no danger to the Muslims in the event of a plebiscite in Kashmir, no matter whether they constitute a big or small minority.”
“What harm lies in holding a plebiscite if you are convinced that people will not vote for Pakistan. Kashmir dispute is still in abeyance in the Security Council and both India and Pakistan are members of the UNO. It is clear that the dispute is still alive. Mere writing on paper that such and such things were resolved is not enough to solve the problem nor could such procedure solve political issues. I would therefore finally appeal to the House that solution of this problem be left to a free and fair plebiscite.”


Tailpiece
Koul says people of Kashmir have not forgotten atrocities committed by tribals. But he forgets to tell other side of the story. On November 4, 1947, Sheikh writes in his Autobiography that Sardar Patel, Indian Defence Minister Baldev Singh and Maharaja Patiala visited Jammu and held talks with Maharaja Hari Singh.
“On November 5, 1947 in the whole Jammu City it was announced that Muslims should produce themselves before the police lines so that they will be shifted to Pakistan. Within hours Muslims, both men, women and children gathered around police lines. They were put into 40 trucks and each truck there were 100 people. Then near Samba, they were asked to board down. Men with machine guns were all around the place. The young women were kept aside, and then all other Muslims were shot dead. Even infants were killed in the laps of their mothers,” Sheikh says in his Autobiography.
Sheikh then poignantly adds, “in this group there was daughter of Chowdary Abbas, who was kidnapped and later recovered because of my own efforts. Then I sent her back to her father. These all horrors shocked me,” Sheikh writes. And Koul forgets to “flog these dead horses.”
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